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Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

Beeline or Meander

January 25, 2013 2 comments

tree rings

During yesterday’s confirmation hearing to consider whether John Kerry should be the next US Secretary of State, Senator Bob Corker commented to the nominee, “I think you have led a life that has brought you to this moment.”

Well, of course he has. Haven’t we each led a life that has brought us to this moment? No doubt, Corker’s observation was intended to highlight the internal logic of Kerry’s journey. As the son of a diplomat, a war hero and protester, a senator with long service on the foreign relations committee, Kerry’s life, in hindsight, seems to point specifically to this position.

But it probably didn’t always seem that way to him. In the bitterness of a lost presidential bid, for example, don’t you think he might have had moments when he bemoaned his life’s failure to add up? For most of us, life is more of a meander than a beeline. But with and without our help, our experience continues to accrue, endlessly shaping us and the moment we are in.

Even when the logic of our life’s trajectory isn’t so apparent, you can be sure it’s there. It is energizing and clarifying to make a conscious effort to discern that unbroken thread of purpose.

When you look back on the life you have led that has brought you to this moment, what would you say it’s pointing you to?

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Seeing Yourself Whole

Flower mandalaWhat is the source of your greatest contribution to the world?

a) My remarkable brain
b) My big, generous heart
c) My beautiful body
d) My enlightened soul

You’re one step ahead of me, aren’t you? Of course, the answer is e) All of the above! As a complex, dynamic human system, your ability to live with purpose and impact here on earth comes not from any one dimension of your being, but from the continuous interoperation of all of them.

It’s easy to forget this fundamental truth when we get caught up in the expectations of a system—work, family, church, community—that seems only to want a piece of us. But when we collapse our sense of self to accommodate the perceived preferences of others, we forfeit much of the creative energy that comes with full self-awareness.

Conversely, when we maintain our awareness of self as a complex, dynamic whole, the rewards that accrue to us and those around us are immeasurable: We expand our options for intervening when we’re stuck or off-track; we gain clarity about the values that enliven us and the purpose that drives us forward; we gain confidence in our capacity for sustained contribution.

That’s why it’s important and courageous work to assert our wholeness on behalf of our own fulfillment and in service to others. In a feature article in this month’s issue of The Systems Thinker newsletter from Pegasus Communications, I offer a few ideas and tools, such as The Round Resume, to help you awaken and sustain your awareness of self as a whole system of power and purpose.